Record Foreclosures in Massachusetts Spared Due to "Right-to-Cure" Law

Lenders foreclosed on 12,233 homes in Massachusetts in 2010, only 197 less than during the record-setting mortgage crisis of 2008. That record likely would have been topped if not for emergency legislation that passed in August of last year. An Act Relative To Mortgage Foreclosures, more commonly known as the "right-to-cure" law, extended the timeframe a Massachusetts homeowner has to pay back late mortgage payments to 150 days. Previously borrowers had 90 days to become current on their mortgages. Under the new law lenders must now send a notice to homeowners when initiating foreclosure indicating their rights, including that they can sell their home during the 150 day period and use the proceeds to pay the bank.

Because of the delay many Massachusetts borrowers were able to stay in their homes past 2010.

In addition to the extension, the right-to-cure law forces lenders to meet with the homeowner at least once face-to-face and negotiate in good faith. The borrower can also bring an attorney or send one in his or her stead to negotiate with the lender.

The right-to-cure law is not the only recent legal blow to lenders. A January ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that lenders must have proof they held the mortgage at the time of the foreclosure. Many banks involved in mortgage-backed securities only have paperwork showing they owned the security. The ruling could invalidate thousands of foreclosures in Massachusetts, even if the borrower legitimately defaulted on the home loan.

Another measure contemplated by the Secretary of the Commonwealth is to have judicial oversight of the foreclosure process. About half the states currently have judicial foreclosure, but Massachusetts is not one of them.

Despite the new laws, experts are not predicting a resurgence in the housing market any time soon. Lenders are expected to foreclose on 1.2 million homes nationwide in 2011, more than any other time since 2006.

Homeowners have many options when facing foreclosure. Some bankruptcy proceedings allow filers to stay in their homes. Often banks are willing to negotiate loan modifications that avoid the cost and hassle of foreclosure. Short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure allow a homeowner to "walk away" from the property.

Foreclosure can be a difficult and stressful time. It is often in your best interest to find help. If you are behind on your home mortgage payments or in danger of foreclosure, contact a bankruptcy attorney immediately.